[This article also appears in the I-Pad edition of Cardboard Magazine.]
Two pairs of hands rested on my back as I bowed my head, staring at my shoes nervously.
They were speaking in a language I didn’t understand.
I didn’t care to understand. I didn’t want to understand.
But they kept telling me to open my mouth and allow those strange words to flow from my quivering lips. I opened my mouth and muttered in English, hoping they wouldn’t notice. But they prayed louder and more enthusiastically.
Angel words, tongues of fire.
“Do you want it? Don’t you want this wonderful gift?” They asked me.
No, no, no! Get away from me!
But my mother taught me to be kind. I simply answered, “I…I don’t know?”
They looked at each other and shook their head. “Fear. She has a lot of fear,” one said to another. “Yes, I sense it too,” the other replied.
I peeked past the barrier their bodies created around me. The congregation of people were anxiously looking at me, hoping to witness the miracle.
Will they be disappointed? What if nothing happens?
Several minutes ticked by, and nothing happened. The prayers of angel tongue grew weary. The two finally stopped praying for me, and sighed. “Perhaps, you should go home and practice by yourself. Try letting go of the fear that is holding you back.”
I walked through the aisle back to my seat. The congregation looked with at me, the shaking and crying young woman who could not get those foreign words rolling from her mouth. My fear had got in the way of the Holy Spirit. I cried bitterly at my seat.
How dare they do that! God, how dare you let that happen to me? I didn’t want it! You knew that! You told me that this gift wasn’t for me! And in front of all those people, you let that happen to me! You humiliated me! How could you do that?
I’ve had it. I’ve had enough of you.
That was the first time I tried to walk away from the Lord.
This was the beloved Lord I had loved with all my heart. For months leading up to that moment, I had been in a spiritual funk; I had been searching for His voice, the voice I was so used to listening to even as a child. I searched everywhere, clutching onto a faint sense of hope. I searched within scripture, within songs and hymns, within bloggers, within books, within solitude, within peers and mentors, within different walls of different churches. But my cup remained empty. My mouth was dry. My soul felt bear.
My friend invited me to a church he had been visiting for a while. Though it was a small church, they sang with the strength of thousands. They danced along the aisles and hit the tambourines on their thighs. They sat on folding chairs and lifted their hands to the heavens, proclaiming the majesty of their God, the God that broke every chain and spoke freedom into their lives. Within their church walls, there was no space to mourn, grieve, or doubt. Jesus had risen, therefore, all was well. Let no tear be shed!
As the church sang their songs loudly, I whispered words of praise, hoping God would hear and find delight in my small, broken offering. Maybe He will then fill me up with… Himself.
Once the music and praises died down, I was summoned up to the front of the church. Shocked, I pointed at myself and asked, “Do you mean me?” “Of course! Come up here! God has told me something, and I must tell you!”
Anxious, I got up from my folding chair and walked up to the stage.
I came back to my folding chair devastated, broken, and hurt.
It was is one thing to be hurt. It is another to be hurt by your own God.
For months, I had done everything to love God with everything I had. Was this how He had intended to repay me? Is this how He showed His love for me?
It took be many months to heal, recover, and apologize to God. In my brokenness, He remained faithful and taught me to sing once more. I slowly found joy and peace, and I rejoiced because my cup was full once more.
I don’t speak in tongues. I believe that it is a gift that some are blessed with, but I also believe that it isn’t a gift for everyone. It isn’t a gift for me.
I talk to my Creator in English and sometimes, in my native tongue of Malayalam. I talk to him in song, in dance, in writing, in tears, in laughter, and in silence. With all my heart, I know that this is good, this is holy, and this is enough.